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The Flare Path: Bedtime Games

Simulation & wargame blather

Bedtime games are the games you reach for when the cocoa is steaming and the duvet is beckoning. They make allowances for weary hands and tired minds They don't punish you for over-indulging in the pub. They don't lead you on and on by leaving long breadcrumb trails in the forest. The perfect bedtime game isn't loud, gory, or coldhearted; it's a softly spoken sandman, a ludological lullaby, a sweet dreams seeder. Right now, my bedtime game of choice is Volo Airsport.

Since Flare Path last rustled treetops and caressed crags, Martijn Zandvliet's work-in-progress wingsuit game has gained new scenery, flight modelling equations, sounds, and control options. (It's also acquired a price - $13). The plethora of code changes have transformed something fresh and promising into something really rather remarkable.

At one point last night, while chasing contours on the new Alpine map, I actually found myself wiping a tear from my eye. The combination of handsome vistas, exhilarating physics and affecting audio had brought forth the bead of brine. Volo had reminded a veteran flight simmer that sometimes you don't need fastidiously modelled virtual aircraft to vicariously experience the thrill - the ecstasy - of flight - indeed, sometimes the presence of an aircraft may be a hindrance rather than a help.

The game's power is rooted in an unusual and evocative flight model. Buzzing crests and threading ravines like a love-drunk falcon, there's never a moment when you forget you're relying on flexible muscle and fabric for lift and control rather than rigid wood and metal. At first using the WASD keys and mouse to direct your avatar (A gamepad is recommended but I reckon thumbsticks don't compliment Volo's feel and theme particularly well) is tricky; crunching collisions with scenery are frequent. Slowly though, you find your feet (and legs and arms); manoeuvres become more instinctive, the turbulence-related buffeting less alarming. Put in the practice and the mountains eventually morph from enemies into playmates.

It's fortunate the game's central activity is so bally mesmerising because right now Volo does feel feather-light in other areas. With only one venue (barren apart from one tree type and some placeholder AI entities), no structured challenges, mountain top launches, or parachutes (all descents end with a bump) there's nothing to do at present except pick a spawn point in the sky then savour the sights, sounds, and sensations of a death-defying descent. The FAQ indicates Martijn has exciting plans. For the sake of bedtime birdmen everywhere, Flare Path hopes those plans hatch and fledge.


Fancy earning the eternal gratitude of a respected Russian flight sim studio? All you've got to do is jump on the next plane to Tehran, take a bus south, then surreptitiously snap a few airbases! What could possibly go wrong!

Eagle Dynamics have just announced a Strait of Hormuz map for DCS World and would appreciate some assistance with airport detailing. The map is big news in DCS circles because the series has been stuck in the Caucasus for nigh-on twenty years.

At 390km by 390km it may not be as large as some punters would like, but few are criticizing the choice of location. Incorporating parts of Iran, the UAE and Oman and a waterway of unrivalled strategic significance, the add-on due this Winter will be an ideal playground for DCS World's increasingly large aviary of contemporary warbirds. Future flyables like the upcoming F/A-18 should also enjoy its oil well-dotted deserts and tanker-thronged sea lanes.


Scourge of War will be exchanging blue and grey for blue and red soon. With the Battle of Waterloo-themed title on the horizon, no-one was expecting a free hunk of Virginian violence. Work undertaken for a local university, has allowed NorbSoftDev to release a gratis Battle of Lynchburg add-on for Scourge of War: Gettysburg.

Though, in reality, the titular tussle 'only' claimed around 80 lives, it could easily have developed into something bloodier (The Union force attempting to capture the town arrived understrength and under supplied and withdrew after some unpromising probing). The pack explores some of these potential scenarios in addition to exploring actual events.

The full battle scenario commences with forces in historical positions but is totally unscripted and playable from dozens of different perspectives (In SoW you can play as almost any link in the command chain). There's weeks of surprise-sprinkled slaughter here for ACW aficionados.


I enjoyed my dalliance with the Battle Academy 2 preview code back in July and suspect I'm also going to have a good time with the just-released finished article.

The Brothers of the Hexagon (an organisation I parted company with in 2012 after a bitter disagreement over river representation) have requested I boycott the tile-utilizing 'hexetic', but pop wargames as elegant, easily grasped, and rammed with novel units as BA2 don't come along very often, so they can take a running jump.


The Flare Path Foxer

Last Friday's overstaffed Magnificent Seven were phlebas, Syt, Beowulf, Stugle, Useful Dave, Shiloh, FurryLippedSquid, SpiceTheCat and AbyssUK. Armed with Sharps rifles and sharp minds they shot to pieces the 'TV Westerns' foxer designed by evil rancher Rorschach617.

A. Virginian Railway logo
B. Rifleman on NZ banknote
C. Fairey Firefly
D. The L-class blimp 'Ranger'
E. MIM-72 Chaparral
F. Sky King logo
G. AH-56 Cheyenne
H. Leroy 'Sugarfoot' Bonner of the Ohio Players
I. Beechcraft Bonanza


If defoxers had a patron saint it would probably be Julian of Basingstoke. In 1992 Reverend Julian Bagnold installed five stained-glass picture puzzles in his 18th Century Hampshire church, quadrupling his congregation overnight. For the record, the themes were...

  • Florence Nightingale (Porch)
  • Types of knot (Nave North)
  • The Battle of the River Plate (Nave South)
  • Philatelic terms (Chapel)
  • Scooby Doo (Chancel)

The puzzle below was installed in the vestry in 2011 by Julian's successor, Reverend Babs.

All foxer answers in one thread, please.

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